Nice Brown People



A few days a week I pretend to be an edgy young emergent liberal Episcopalian. A few days a month I pretend to be a starving artist aspiring religious writer. A few evenings a week I pretend to be a Capitol Hill hipster. The rest of the time I'm pretending to be a suburban youth minister. That's what I was up to last week while my church was (sort of) deciding they're here, they're queer, and we're used to it.

I took a group of genuinely nice, mostly white, mostly wealthy, mostly junior high kids from the Eastside to volunteer on the Yakama Nation Reservation, where we played with kids and painted a few houses with a bunch of kids from evangelical churches from Montana, Washington and California. YouthWorks always gives me hope for Christians. I was kind of shamefully expecting the trip to be about saving kids like the nice white lady in the video, but the organization set a nice tone by starting off the week with a presentation by a Blackfeet guy named Corey Greaves, who told us, for the love of God, please don't save us this week. Listen to what people have to say on the Res and take it back with you. (I really do think things are changing in most American churches (some more quickly than others)) The people of the Yakama Nation set a nice tone for the week by being much more gracious to us kindhearted only-maybe-helpful-nice-white-people than they needed to be. It's hard to know whether the impact of this kind of interaction is positive, but I do think our kids and I learned some important things about the rightful possessors of the land we live on. Personal highlight of the week - worship circle w/the locals with a talking stick and burning sage and sacramental water and a drum circle. It's the Episcopalian in me that loved the liturgy the most.

So my exhortation is: read some Sherman Alexie and visit a Reservation and listen to people, or get educated or something. At least read this wikipedia article. It's their country, after all.

Here are some pictures from the trip:

Comments

ROBERTA said…
tim, if we ever get an opportunity to meet i'll re-enact my "thomas describing childhood trip to Denny's" scene from Smoke Signals for ya...love that movie! love that sherman alexie!
Gabrielle said…
oh, that Nice White Lady skit made me laugh so hard.
Rebecca said…
That is the funniest satire I've seen in forever!

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